Cover: The Warasila bay house
survived Superstorm Sandy due to
the use of helical piles and having a
trap door in the floor, which allows
water in, but keeps the house in
place during storms and hurricanes.
Photograph by Martha Cooper,
courtesy of Long Island Traditions.
Read more in Nancy Solomon’s
From the Waterfront column, “In
Harm’s Way” on p. 37.
|FROM THE DIRECTOR|
From the Fall–Winter 2017 issue of Voices:
Because of our statewide
mission, the New
York Folklore Society
necessarily works in
collaboration with a
variety of partners.
Our most extensive
partner has been the
Folk Arts Program of the New York State
Council on the Arts (NYSCA), with which
we have partnered since 1990 to provide
professional development and technical assistance
to the folk arts community within
New York State. With NYSCA, New York
Folklore conducts the annual New York Folk
Arts Roundtable and an ongoing Mentoring
and Professional Development Program.
NYSCA is also a partner in an annual folk
arts internship that is provided to graduate
students in folklore, so that they can gain
on-the-job public folklore experience.
Since 2016, the New York Folklore Society
has also partnered with the William G.
Pomeroy Foundation in approving the placement
of markers that designate specific sites
as important to folklore in New York State.
In the past few years, more than 30 markers
have been placed throughout the state, highlighting
the role of “place” in New York’s
“Legends and Lore” recognizes the
role of local legends and the folk stories of
New York’s communities through markers
explaining the tales. For more information,
or to make a nomination, please see the
The New York Folklore Society is pleased
to enter into two new partnerships in 2018.
Local Learning: The National Network for
Folk Arts in Education has begun a program
in the Buffalo, NY, region in partnership
with the New York Folklore Society. The project will train community tradition bearers
and folk artists in the skills needed to
be teaching artists within the K–12 school
setting and will introduce classroom educators
to curriculum connections, which can
be made with folk and traditional arts. A
workshop with the nationally recognized
consultant on folk arts in education, Amanda
Dargan, will be conducted in partnership
with the Erie and Niagara County BOCES
on August 21 and 22. Participating educators
will have the opportunity to have a two-day
artist residency in their own classrooms as
a follow-up activity.
This program is supported
by grants from NYSCA and the National
Endowment for the Arts, with plans
to duplicate it in subsequent years.
Probably, our most extensive partnership
in 2018 is our joining with the American
Folklore Society (AFS) and NYSCA to
co-chair the annual meeting of AFS. This
annual conference draws hundreds of folklorists,
oral historians, and cultural specialists
for four days of academic presentations,
workshops, forums, and professional development.
This year’s theme is ”No Illusions,
No Exclusions,” and it will be held October
17–20, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown
Buffalo. We hope you’ll plan to join us there
as we showcase folklore and folklife, with a
special focus on New York State.
The New York Folklore Society remains a
membership organization, open to all. We
hope to be in YOUR community soon.
Ellen McHale, PhD
New York Folklore Society
|“...the making of art is an irrepressible force that is true of everyone.”
—Greg Sharrow, Folklorist, Vermont Folklife Center
|FROM THE EDITOR
From the Fall–Winter
2017 issue of Voices:
My friend Jack Leadley
died April 4, 2018. He
was 90 years old. I’ve
known Jack for some
30 years. We first met
during my first survey of
folk artists working in the
Called “An Adirondack Legend,” Jack
was a skilled woodsman, hunter, and trapper.
He was also an artist, writer, and snowshoe
and ski instructor. He made beautiful pack
baskets and rustic furniture. He flew a plane,
giving me my first aerial view of the Adirondack
Park, saying how handy it was for a
quick trip to Maine to catch up with family
over a lobster dinner, and be back in time to
sleep in his own bed by nightfall.
Jack’s love of the Adirondacks came early
in life. In the 1930s his family drove up from
Staten Island to spend summers in a rented
cabin on Lake Pleasant in Speculator, New
York. The mountain air helped his father’s
asthma. After serving in the Second World
War, Jack returned to the mountains permanently,
marrying his wife Joan and joining a
family with roots that traced back to 1794.
He opened Leadley’s Adirondack Sugarbush
in 1949. He and his family tapped
some 2500 maple trees each spring to make
maple syrup to sell from the gift shop on
Route 30, just north of Speculator. It is one
of several buildings on the 115-acre Leadley
compound, along with immediate family
households, including those of Leadley’s
three adult children who are eighth-generation
Lake Pleasant natives.
Jack’s Adirondack pack baskets were second
to none. He made them the old fashioned
way, cutting black ash trees, usually in the
spring when the bark peels off easily. He
soaked and pounded every square inch of the log, causing the annual growth rings
to loosen and separate. He then pulled the
splints off the full length of the log. These
he smoothed and cut into uniform strips, to
create the raw material used to weave the
Jack had carried a pack basket since
the 1940s while running his traplines, and
began to make his own when quality baskets
were getting hard to find. He shared this
knowledge wholeheartedly with anyone.
He’s noted as a strong supportive influence
of many basketmakers, and I’ve found his
interviews as far away as Maine. For me,
he breathed life into the old, discarded
pack basket hanging in the garage of my
childhood, owned by my stepfather, who,
according to a family story, was carried
in it by his own stepfather across a frozen
Saranac Lake. Jack carried his own young
son in a pack basket of his making while
hiking the woods near their home.
Jack also made rustic furniture. He is
known for reviving the Whitehouse chair,
originally made by Lee Fountain, a local
innkeeper in the late 19th century. The
chair has birch framing with woven seats of
black ash splints and was an early addition
to the Folklife Center’s Folk Art & Artist
Collection, available for view, along with
his other work, on www.nyheritage.org.
A Hamilton County destination was
the bark shanty that Jack built back in
the woods of his family’s compound.
These small cabins, now rare, were once
commonly used by woodsmen, hunters,
trappers, and fishermen in the backcountry
of the Adirondacks. He called it Camp
Balsam and dedicated it to the memory of
those “Adirondack pioneers who came here
Its design was based on a shanty built
by Jack’s wife’s great-grandfather, George
Burton, at Little Moose Pond in the 1890s.
His shanty was framed with poles and
covered with sheets of peeled bark. The
front door faced south to catch the winter
sun, and the west wall had a window
covered with deer rawhide, diffusing a
warm amber light inside. A flat side of a granite boulder formed the north wall and
the back of an open fire pit. Inside, smoke
escaped through a small, covered wooden
tower on the roof. The two pole beds lining
the walls of the 8 by 10-foot cabin were
filled with fresh balsam. He welcomed
visitors, including a special road trip from
Glens Falls, as a part of our kids’ workshop
series on “Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties.”
Jack demonstrated his craft at our earliest
Adirondack folk festivals and children’s
workshop series. He enjoyed these visits
with us and with other venues like Fort
Klock, Hanford Mills, and the Adirondack
Museum. As he became more sought
after, he began to limit these activities, as
he recalled in a letter: “You and Crandall
Library have always been special as I
started going away from my workshop to
demonstrate my work.” But it was a twoedged
sword. “Almost all my work is sold
on order...I don’t need more ‘exposure’.
Working alone with no power tools limits
my production.” He came to prefer staying
on his own property in the woods, allowing
folks to come to him: “My workshop is
so complete for my production, I do not
leave it much...July and August, there are
visitors here every day. I like to be here as
people interested in my work are an added
benefit to meet.”
What an incredible joy it was to share an
afternoon with Jack in his own workshop
back in the Hamilton County woods.
A mini pack basket made by Jack was
gifted to my family at the birth of my first
son. Jack’s own son Rick carries on his dad’s
role of maker of traditional rustic furniture,
and his daughter Lynn continues to make
the pack baskets.
Jack was a kind-hearted man, so very
talented and generous with his time and his
knowledge. Indeed, he was an “Adirondack
Legend.” What an honor to have known
him. Fare thee well, my good friend.
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library
|Fall–Winter 2017, Volume 43:3–4|
Mary Beth Malmsheimer
Editorial Board Todd DeGarmo, Chair.
Gabrielle Berlinger, Sydney Hutchinson, Maria Kennedy,
David Puglia, Puja Sahney, Joseph Sciorra,
Emily Socolov, Nancy Solomon
Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore
is published twice a year by the
New York Folklore Society, Inc.
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(518) 346-7008 or fax (518) 346-6617.
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